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Does Political Ambiguity Pay? Corporate Campaign contributions and the Rewards to Legislator Reputation

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  • Randall S. Kroszner
  • Thomas Stratmann

Abstract

Do politicians tend to follow a strategy of ambiguity in their policy positions or a strategy of reputational development to reduce uncertainty about where they stand? Ambiguity could allow a legislator to avoid alienating constituents and to play rival interests off against each other to maximize campaign contributions. Alternatively, reputational clarity could help to reduce uncertainty about a candidate and lead to high campaign contributions from favored interests. We outline a theory that considers conditions under which a politician would and would not prefer reputational development and policy-stance clarity in the context of repeat dealing with special interests. Our proxy for reputational development is the percent of repeat givers to a legislator. Using data on corporate political action committee contributions (PACs) to members of the U.S. House during the seven electoral cycles from 1983/84 to 1995/96, we find that legislators do not appear to follow a strategy of ambiguity and that high reputational development is rewarded with high PAC contributions.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Randall S. Kroszner & Thomas Stratmann, 1999. "Does Political Ambiguity Pay? Corporate Campaign contributions and the Rewards to Legislator Reputation," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 155, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:chices:155
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    File URL: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/research/cses/WorkingPapersPDF%27s/155.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 2000. "Obstacles to Optimal Policy: The Interplay of Politics and Economics in Shaping Bank Supervision and Regulation Reforms," CRSP working papers 512, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
    2. Adam Meirowitz, 2005. "Keeping the other candidate guessing: Electoral competition when preferences are private information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 299-318, March.
    3. Dalton Conley & Brian J. McCabe, 2008. "Bribery or Just Desserts? Evidence on the Influence of Congressional Voting Patterns on PAC Contributions from Exogenous Variation in the Sex Mix of Legislator Offspring," NBER Working Papers 13945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Randall S. Kroszner, 2000. "The economics and politics of financial modernization," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 25-37.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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